Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Brainstorm #4: Child Education

01/13/2011

Each Monday we explore an edge on a new issue or existing problem. The spade question acts as a catalyst for creative ideas and objectives. This Monday we asked:

How can we improve the communication between parent, teacher and student to better educate our children?

Research from across the board overwhelmingly demonstrates the positive effect of parent-teacher communication and involvement on their children’s academic achievement and does wonder to the long-term accomplishments and competence of their child – including advancement for higher education and better career choices.

Study after study (Clark 1983; Comer 1980, 1988; Eccles, Arbreton, et al., 1993; Eccles-Parsons, Adler and Kaczala 1982; Epstein 1983, 1984; Majoribanks 1979 as cited in Eccles and Harold 1996) made the evidence indisputable that whenever students with similar initial background and aptitude were rated by their performance those with more parental involvement did better. Increased Communication Equals Better Education.

It’s no doubt then why the “No Child Left Behind” Act supports parent involvement and reinforces heavily the administrative responsibility towards every student – regardless of race, ethnicity or background.

We live in eventful times. Everything around us has suddenly become so interesting that we forget to take quality time from our busy day and think about the future of our children. In many cases it’s a phone call, or a an email, just to follow-up or receive feedback on a particular issue.

“Great teachers teach the Three R’s; great principals make great schools. And great parent groups make the difference between a big pile of bricks with teachers inside, or a real community” – Tim Sullivan, founder and president of PTO Today

And indeed it is so. Only a parent can choose to reinforce or compromise the quality of education and effort a teacher invests. Every child needs the support and self-esteem to lead them through the most challenging but also most quintessential part of their life.

So how can we  improve the communication between parent, teacher and student to better educate our children?

Here are some ideas that our readers and team came up with:

1. Listen! 75% of communication is listening to what the other person is actually saying. – C.D.

2. Be more humble and responsible: Simply get the parent/teacher to practice some modesty and practice on being humble – that will be a good start. The student should be willing and open to accepting their authority. – Y.K.

– Piggy-back comment: Create programs and events that encourage children to talk and express themselves their thoughts, feelings, and talents – in a judgement-free zone. Why does “Show & Tell” stop in 1st Grade?

– Piggy-back comment: We could also make kids in charge – offering children the opportunity to practice authority. A “Topsy-Turvy Day” where students play teacher and vice versa may shed light to each on how it feels to be in the other person’s moccasins.

3. Constant dialogue: Constant communication and interest both ways. – C.R.

4. Social Networking: A site where teacher, parent, student and class can all interact in friendly and safe environment. – N.K.

5. Let them out: Encourage kids to talk and express their thoughts, feelings and talents in a judgement-free zone. Why “Show & Tell” stop in 1st Grade?

6. More exciting PTA (parent teacher association): Make it fun, funny, interactive and focus more on accomplishments than the cons or where the child is falling behind.

7. Make education more fun! Adding more interactive, musical or multimedia presentations may enhance both the general attention level and the stickiness of the material (think Sesame Street).

– Other ways may be to have – in addition to the “Pledge of Allegiance” – a morning psyche-up where everybody gets excited about the coming day with a hokey-pokey, class cheers, games and positive affirmations.

– Have everyone (teachers included) say one nice thing to the person next to them.

– Another method for making lessons “stick” would be to add more sensory involvement – touch, taste, sight, smell and sound.

8. Play! Instead of bombarding students with homework, have them make a play demonstrating what they’ve learned on the subject matter. There would be a list of general items or questions that the students would have to answer or research and incorporate them into their act.

– Tools (music tracks, props, material resources) would be provided by the administration. Creativity and would be provided solely by the students.

9. Rewards and Incentives: One thing that parents could do to incentivize their little champs would be to celebrate certain milestones or goals. Throw a party or make a banquet “Perfect Attendance” Breakfast featuring their child’s favorite food! There isn’t a child in the world who doesn’t love getting woken up for a surprise party!

– This can also work as part of a general rewards program that is the result of effort between school and home, with input by both parent and teacher. – N.K.

– This can also work in more extravagant fashion as a national program where each child is issued actual mini-credit-cards (kids love ’em) which rack up points or miles which are redeemable for cash, prizes and trips.

Which suggestions do YOU like best?

What are YOUR ideas?

Let us know!

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What Is Leadership?

04/08/2010

This morning I wrote a comment on my Twitter and Facebook (as I normally do so many times a week when I have a thought I deem worth sharing):

“If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised”.

I should have been more specific as I was soon bombarded by dozens of comments begging me to defend my statement. (I paraphrase).

“One who looks to attend to all attends to none. A leader is defined by how they lead – not how they react”

“The leader not only has to listen, but must also consider external and internal factors that are not being voiced!”

“The leader, not the people, will often make the right choice. A leader leads by example”

Various Other Leaders vs The Ultimate Leader

There are various types of leaders, as my friend Yermi points out in in “Leadership – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“. And in addition to adjustment of character, there are various functions in the organization that each require leadership: The Financial Leader, The Management Leader, The Marketing Leader, etc.

The individual I refer to however is none other than the Enterprise Leader. This is the Big Kahuna, The Head Honcho, The CEO – whatever. He or she is the person who takes full responsibility for the organization, company, or nation they lead.

Peter Drucker once said “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations”

The Job vs Enterprise Leadership

Leadership is more than just a job, or “function”. It does not follow the same job description as “COO” or “VP of Sales”. The leader is one who a) takes full responsibility for the organization and b) drives it and its people forward to greatness and improvement.

Many people confuse CEO (chief executive officer – or enterprise leader) with COO (chief operations officer – or management leader). The COO’s job is to make sure everyone does their job. To ensure that operations run smoothly and effectively. To create systems and procedural duties that allow the organization to endure as it did yesterday.

The Enterprise Leader has a different focus entirely. The Vision. Whereas most others in the organization focus on yesterday, today or tomorrow, the Leader must focus on all of these simultaneously. Whereas a hierarchy of lead and be led is often present, the ultimate decision maker must actually fill both roles.

The Leader and The Vision Are One

The Vision is the leader’s leader; the white paper, the commitment and the dream, self-imposed or otherwise, that the organization and the leader must follow. It is the “bible” which all answer to and none refute. It is the essential constitution that reinforces the core competency and compels the audacious dream forward. The choices made are only a means to achieve the result required.

There is little room for personal thoughts or discrepancies as to what the organization should or should not do. If the dream is realized, the organization and the leader are a success. If not, then all the billions in the world cannot validate its worthless existence.

The Problem Today

In the early part of the last century, businesses and organizations struggled. Either they battled to gain dominance in a small but meaningful niche, or they assumed greatness quickly but just as soon realized they could not carry their own weight.

So we became obsessed with results and productivity. Organizations became organized. The assembly line became the norm. And Six Sigma became an ingrained part of every management system.

But Where Are The People?

And herein lies the essential and impudent task of the enterprise leader. We’ve forgotten all about the people who MAKE the results, and who ARE effective. We’ve put so much focus on the work and the assembly line and the success of our machines that we have completely disregarded the hard working men and women who make it all possible.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, says that the leader should be properly dubbed “The Chief Happiness Officer” (Check out the book). That is his or her true function. In addition to making sure that all the other leaders are doing their jobs helping people do their jobs, they must be an example of what it means to be a good person. Someone who cares about the process just as much as they care for results. Someone who is just as into the People Strategy as they are into their Product Strategy.

Are your people happy? Do they have what they need – attention, love, appreciation, worthiness, value? Do they follow you because of your love and dedication to them and the company? Or do they obey you because they fear heads will roll if they don’t?

What happened to morning psyche-ups with your sales teams? Whatever happened to the CEO walking through the production floors on a periodic basis? What in the world happened to the leader that cares more for his own people than the market cap of his whole company?

Forget all about what textbook leaders look like and act like, and open your eyes to reality. People need people, and YOUR people need YOU.

If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised.